Meet Kyle Hopkins


Who or what brought you to Civitas?

I earned a Masters in Landscape Architecture in Denver, and while in school, I was introduced to Civitas on a tour of Commons Park and of the Civitas office. During the office tour we were given a pretty in-depth introduction to the work and culture of the company, which stuck with me at the time for being so bold and aspirational, and I immediately knew it was something I’d like to be a part of. In 2015, a year out of grad school, I called a colleague who was working at Civitas to get the inside scoop on a job opening. I was lucky enough to be invited to come into the office that same afternoon and sat down with Craig Vickers to talk more about Civitas and the role, and then interviewed with Mark Johnson the following day and joined the office soon after.

How would you describe your personal approach to design?

I appreciate a reflective design process balanced with moments of focused collaboration. I’m best at discovering fresh ideas through drawing, and I’m good at taking big ideas and wrestling with them to get a concept to “lay into the land” per se. Sometimes, the process is accomplished with rigor like a trade, and other times it’s seeing what sticks.

What experiences (or people or places) have had the most influence on you and/or your design approach?

I spent a year living and studying in Shanghai as part of grad school and spent time visiting the region, including trips to Tokyo and Hong Kong. The personal worldview expansion that comes with a big trip like that when focused on urban and landscape study cannot be discounted, but I think I mostly absorb bits and pieces of design inspiration from unexpected places. I was raised in a household of creatives, and the arts were always encouraged – so you can say my training started early. Regarding professional influences, early in my career I absorbed a lot from mentor and former grad school instructor Tony Mazzeo, and I’ve worked at Civitas for the better part of a decade and have had the opportunity to learn a ton from my co-workers.

What is your proudest accomplishment so far, either at work or in life in general?

I am pretty proud of my little family; my amazing wife Steffi, our 1.5 yr old son, two dogs, and of course a Turtle named Tertle.

What accomplishments do you hope or aspire to reach in the future?

At home, I’m looking forward to watching my family grow and thrive. At work, I’m most excited about The Ocean Beach Pier renewal project in San Diego that I’m currently focused on.


What are your favorite types of design projects to work on or design challenges to solve?

I’ll take on any design problem pertaining to landscape, or even adjacent to it, and usually I’ll find a way to get it done. Most things are seeking balance, so that means possibly adding complexity to something mundane or reigning in something that has become unnecessarily complex.

What do you do outside of work to have fun, or relax, or learn, or volunteer?

My family likes to play in the mountains in our camper, on a run, or on skis. I also have a pretty serious DIY problem, and I have a number of acoustic instruments that I play fairly often.

What are you reading or listening to these days?

The books I’m reading these days mostly have very thick cardboard pages and lots of colorful pictures. 

The family is working on building a vinyl collection, and we picked up a few “Fred again..”  records recently  that are getting lots of plays.

What is your favorite food to eat, or recipe to cook?

I get accused of making “dude food” i.e. something quick on the grill or a one-pan delight. Efficiency is key here. 

Describe one item that you never leave home without.

Poop bags.

What will your coworkers find on your desk?

Lots of guitar picks.